Fast Times at UTA

Ryan Amacher says he's leading the University of Texas at Arlington into a glorious future. But his critics fear his passion for pomp and party will run it into the ground.

Bill Reeves, academic advisor in charge of monitoring NCAA eligibility for athletes, says all athletes at UTA currently meet NCAA eligibility. "He [Skelton] has been scrupulous in reporting anything that might even appear to be a violation, to the point of being obsessive about it," says Reeves.

Ryan Amacher is seldom seen open-handedly greeting students on campus byways. To counter the critical letters and articles in The Shorthorn, the president is publishing and distributing his own newspaper--one that focuses on positive news. He has hired an outside public relations firm to polish his image. Provost Taylor keeps the concrete donkey that dangled from Amacher's gate in his office.

Still Amacher endures embarrassing setbacks in carrying out his plans for UTA. During December 19 commencement exercises at the Tarrant County Convention Center, droves of graduating seniors and their families began filing out long before the ceremony was over. Some officials tried to block their exit by putting auditorium ropes across the aisles. When that didn't work, other officials tried unsuccessfully to get the center to lock its doors. Finally, exasperated administrators gave up and scrapped the program's finale. Amacher denounced the students as rude in the next day's paper. But typical of UTA's student body, the walkout was not the result of an organized protest. Most graduates were unimpressed by Amacher's pomp and wanted to get on with their lives.

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